Parashas Mikeitz

Part 1
This week’s parashah begins (Bereishis 41:1): “And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamt – and, behold, he stood by the river.” The Midrash remarks (Bereishis Rabbah 89:4): “And other people do not dream? But this dream was the dream of one who ruled over the entire world.” The Maggid explains this Midrash as follows. In Torah narratives, the Hebrew text ordinarily puts the verb before the subject, and, indeed, this pattern is followed subsequently in describing Pharaoh’s actions. But in the above verse, the Hebrew text puts the subject before the verb. It appears that the Torah seeks to emphasize that it was Pharaoh who had dreamt. This is what prompts the Midrash to ask: “What is so special about the fact that Pharaoh dreamt – other people dream also.” The Midrash then answers: “This dream was the dream of one who ruled over the entire world.” In other words, Pharaoh’s dream was a special dream, well beyond the ordinary.
The Maggid shows how we can use this teaching to answer a question than many ask: Given that the chief cupbearer knew of Yosef’s ability to interpret dreams, why did he not go to Yosef secretly, present Pharaoh’s dream as his own (like the one he had when he was in jail), and get Yosef to tell him what it meant? He could then go to Pharaoh, give him the interpretation, and receive great honor for his show of wisdom, just as Pharaoh in fact honored Yosef in the end. The reason the chief cupbearer did not take this course was that he understood that Pharaoh’s dream was that of a world ruler and had to be treated as such. He knew that if he went to Yosef and present the dream as his own, Yosef would give him an explanation befitting a commoner, which would surely be off the mark.
Part 2
In telling Pharaoh about Yosef, the chief cupbearer said (Bereishis 41:11-13): “And we dreamed a dream one night, I and he – each man according to the interpretation of his dream did we dream. And with us there was a young Hebrew man, servant to the captain of the guard, and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams – to each man according to his dream he did interpret. And it came to pass that as he interpreted to us, so it was – me he [i.e., Pharaoh] restored to my post, and him he hanged.” The Maggid calls attention to a point of phrasing in the cupbearer’s statement: He says “we dreamed a dream” rather than “we dreamed dreams.” In fact, when the chief cupbearer and the chief baker explained their consternation to Yosef on the morning after their dreams, they said (Bereishis 40:8): “We dreamed a dream.” The chief cupbearer and the chief baker considered their dreams so similar that they were in effect one dream, and the two men expected that the dreams had the same meaning. Thus, after Yosef finished interpreting the chief cupbearer’s dream and the chief baker then turned to him to tell him his dream, the chief baker said (Bereishis 40:16): “I, too, in my dream ….” He considered himself in a “me, too” situation. And when the chief cupbearer related the event to Pharaoh, he deliberately used the singular term “dream” to stress the close similarity of the two dreams. Indeed, the chief cupbearer’s statement can rendered as saying “we dreamed one dream on a certain night.” Yet, despite the close similarity of the dreams, Yosef concluded, with wondrous discernment, that the two dreams were to be regarded as separate dreams, and he gave them diametrically opposite interpretations. This extraordinary display of wisdom showed clearly that Yosef was endowed with Divine inspiration.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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